Rematerializing the Workaday World
Edited by Alfons van Marrewijk and Dvora Yanow
Chapter 5: The Beauty and the Beast: The Embodied Experience of Two Corporate Buildings
Alfons van Marrewijk The sun was shining brightly when I climbed the stairs to the spacious Moon Plaza and walked towards the number 5 building of Dutch telecom operator KPN. Standing there in the middle of the plaza, I looked up and saw on the top of the building the company’s name with the golden crown. This was the logo that has meant so much for me, as for a large part of my professional career I have been working with KPN. In this company I have earned my living, obtained my PhD, come to make friends, and been fired during the collapse of the ‘internet bubble’. (Author’s fieldwork notes, 14 May 2007) This sort of personal interpretation and judgement of the meaning of the Moon Plaza reflects what Taylor (2002) calls the aesthetic experience of spatial settings. Such experience is triggered by an external object or setting (Warren 2008). Aesthetics have the double character of reflecting experience and judgement. Aesthetic experience and its associated judgements are subjective reactions to material things (real or imagined) but cannot be reduced to one or the other (Hernes et al. 2006, Warren 2008). For example, employees judge organizational spaces and construct the meaning(s) of those spaces (Dale and Burrell 2008). Lefebvre (1991) calls this phenomenological experienced space or spatial practice. Organizational spaces as experienced by those working in them have increasingly received attention from organizational scientists (Gagliardi 1990, Witkin 1990, Strati 1999, Lam 2001, Felstead et al. 2005, Carr and Hancock 2006,...